Lillard And Team USA Look For First Win In Tokyo Versus Iran

by Casey Holdahl
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The United State’s Men’s National team, despite beginning group play with a loss to France on Sunday, are still considered one of the favorites to come away with the gold at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. However, to guarantee even a trip to the knockout round, they’ll need to win-out in their remaining Group A games, starting with Wednesday’s game (or Tuesday’s here on the west coast) versus one of the qualifiers out of the FIBA Asia zone.

Both the United States and Iran will be out for their first victory at the 32nd Olympiad when they face off Wednesday afternoon (which is Tuesday night here in Portland) at Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo. Tipoff is scheduled for Wednesday at 1:40 p.m. in Tokyo, which is Tuesday 9:40 p.m in Portland.

The invincibility that many conferred upon the United States in men’s basketball had already worn off after they started their training schedule in Las Vegas with back-to-back losses to Nigeria and Australia, though they were still prohibitive favorites to best France in their Olympic opener. But after leading by as many as 10 points in the first half, Team USA faded down the stretch, being outscored 13-0 late in the fourth quarter on the way to a 83-76 loss.

“Some moments it’s trying too hard to do the right thing,” said Damian Lillard, who finished with 11 points, three assists and three rebounds in the loss. “Instead of just being who we are, you know, the best players in the NBA. Shots just didn't fall. We had opportunities down the stretch. Didn't make ‘em.”

But while Iran, the 23rd ranked team in the world, doesn’t boast a collection of NBA players like France, they did hold their own in their first Group A game, a 85-78 loss to the Czech Republic. Iran beating the United States would qualify as one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history, and while it still seems incredibly unlikely -- the USA is favored by nearly 40 points -- so too was the USA losing the first game at the Olympics since 2004.

The game between the United States and Iran will stream live on the Peacock app starting Tuesday night at 9:40 p.m.


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